Like most kids growing up I happened to love the creamy, cheesy, goodness of Macaroni and Cheese. However, unlike most of my fellow peers to me Macaroni and Cheese wasn't the quick meal made within minutes from the dark blue Kraft Box, Instead it was the homemade comfort dish that my Mom specially prepared on a cold winters night, making it a special dish.
I remember the first time I requested Macaroni and Cheese, I was probably 5 or 6 and had seen some of my kindergarten peers eating the funny looking pasta smothered in the velvety smooth cheese sauce. My Mom immediately went to the hutch located in our dining room and flipped through a recipe book belonging to her Mother until at last she found an index sized card with a recipe for homemade macaroni and cheese on it.
I sat at the kitchen table excitedly awaiting the much anticipated meal. My Mom brought out a piping hot casserole dish, using a serving spoon she placed a heaping serving of macaroni and cheese on my plate. I apprehensively examined the Macaroni and cheese on my plate, this looked nothing like the macaroni and cheese the kids at school ate. My Mother's macaroni and cheese had a crispy layer of bread crumbs baked over it.
"whats the matter?" my Mom inquired as she watched me scrutinizing the dish
"this just looks different" I shyly admitted
And to that she replied "just try it!"
So I did and to my surprise it was wonderful, from that day on My Mom's homemade macaroni and cheese had become one of my favorite dishes, till this day I can happily say I have never had boxed macaroni and cheese!
This dish soon became a hit amongst many of my friends, they would come over in excited anticipation for my My Mom's homemade macaroni and cheese with the crispy baked breadcrumbs on top, growing up on the artificial flavors of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, many of them had never tried homemade macaroni and cheese before.
Then I became lactose Intolerant and I had to say goodbye to my favorite comfort food, tough doesn't even describe how difficult this task was for me. Sometimes I would beg my Mom to make it for me, willing to undergo the lovely ramifications.
However, My sensitivity to dairy began to worsen and the suffering began to become too much, so I finally decided to all together stop eating dairy. However, my Mom still persistently tried to perfect a non dairy macaroni and cheese, she tried a variety of cheese alternatives and non dairy milks and butter, but it always resulted in a tasteless, half melted mess!
Then after becoming vegan I discovered Daiya Cheese, a delicious Cheese that actually melts. I decided to make one final attempt at making a homemade macaroni and cheese. I used the basic recipe premise for my Mom's Marconi and cheese using vegan alternatives and a few variations to ensure a creamy and delicious dish!
The first was the use of nutritional yeast instead of flour, nutritional yeast is a great thickening agent like flour but it adds a cheesy flavor perfect for making any vegan cream base sauce. I then decided to add in pureed butternut squash for two reasons, the first was that I happened to be running very low on vegan butter, and I was nervous that my sauce wouldn't be thick enough, butternut squash however would provide a healthy alternative to thickening up the sauce. I also choose to use butternut squash because it adds a delicious natural flavor to the sauce which combines wonderfully with the rest of the ingredients while providing a beautiful vibrant orange color to the sauce.
This Recipe is simple and easy to follow, plus the best part is it only takes about 35 minutes to prepare and cook! The macaroni and cheese turned out creamy and cheesy, the perfect special dish for a cold winters night.
1 box of elbow Macaroni (I used Ronzoni Smart Taste, but any variety)
3- 4 cups of water
A dash of salt
1 cup Daiya style Cheddar Shreds
1 1/2 cup of pureed butternut squash
1 tablespoons vegan butter ( I use Earth Balance)
3 tbsp of nutritional yeast
2 cups light soy milk
A Dash of black Pepper
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs ( Click here for my easy Homemade Breadcrumb recipe)
1) Begin by Preheating oven to 350
2) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat, add in elbows and cook until pasta is al dente.
3) While waiting for pasta to cook begin preparing your sauce. In a medium size sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat, add in nutritional yeast and mix together to form a paste
4) Add in soy milk, using a whisk combine together ingredients make sure your sauce is lump free, let simmer for 5 minute or until sauce begins to thicken
5) Add is pureed butternut squash, thoroughly mix together ingredients to ensure everything is well blended (you may notice that the butternut squash also helps to thicken the sauce).
6) Stir in Cheese, let sit for 1 to 2 minutes or until sauce has a creamy velvety smooth consistency. Remove Sauce from heat and let sit.
7) Drain pasta and add pasta to the cheese sauce, stir together and pour mixture into a greased 9 x 9 baking pan
8) Sprinkle breadcrumbs over macaroni and cheese and let bake for 15 minutes or until cheese begins to bubble
9) Serve Warm and enjoy this creamy Vegan home-style comfort food!
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